5 Free Agents The Carolina Panthers Should Target This Offseason
5 Free Agents To Target This Offseason
Even with a loss in their first postseason game to the San Francisco 49ers, the Carolina Panthers can consider 2013 a success. They won the NFC South and gained a bye in the first round of the playoffs. They hosted a game against the 49ers, in which they lost, but still showed they belong amongst the elite teams in the NFL.
Going into his third year, quarterback Cam Newton proved that he may be the best young QB in the NFL and is a franchise player. He finished the season with more than 3,300 yards passing, 24 TDs and 13 INTs. While it was a career low in passing yards, he had a career high in TDs, completion percentage, and QB Rating. He also carried the ball 111 times for 585 yards and six TDs.
The Panthers were able to stay in games because of their defense, which ranked second in the NFL in yards per game against and points per game against. They have one of the best front sevens in the league with Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis, Star Lotulelei, Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson. They don't have big names in the secondary, but were able to get solid play for Captain Munnerlyn and Mike Mitchell.
Kicker Graham Gano had a solid season going 24-for-27 in field goals and making all 42 extra point attempts. Second year punter Brad Nortman was one of the best in the NFL in 2013; he finished fourth in the league in yards per punt at 47.8 and fifth in the league in net average at 41.6.
Carolina is a running team that likes to control the pace of the game. With Steve Smith on the decline and no true No. 2 receiver behind him, they need to start getting some more weapons for Cam Newton. They were able to get solid seasons from DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert, but neither of them are going to get better in the coming years. These positions, along with the departure of current free agents, are things the Panthers will need to target this upcoming offseason.
5. Jared Allen
The Carolina Panthers had one of the best front sevens in the NFL in 2013. Defensive end Greg Hardy had a career year with 15 sacks and may have priced himself out of the price range of the Panthers. They could fill his role with Jared Allen, who is getting towards the end of his career and may take a pay cut to play with a contender.
4. Zane Beadles
Jordan Gross, Travelle Wharton and Garry Williams are all free agents this year. If you want to be a running team that controls the clock, you need to have a solid offensive line. Keeping Gross will probably be their No. 1 goal this offseason, but signing Zane Beadles would not just serve as a replacement for Wharton, but an upgrade.
3. Dennis Pitta
The Panthers already have an above average tight end in Greg Olsen. Adding a Super Bowl winner like Dennis Pitta would allow them to line up in two tight end sets and be able to run the ball and stretch the defense out. With the contract Joe Flacco has, the Ravens probably can't keep him and he would be a great security blanket for Newton.
2. Brent Grimes
Brent Grimes went into the 2013 season with questions about his health after tearing his Achilles in 2012. He had a great season for the Miami Dolphins with four interceptions and didn't give up a single touchdown all year. The combination of he and Captain Munnerlyn would give the Panthers a legitimate 1-2 combination and allow them to slide the other corners back into positions they are more suited for.
1. Hakeem Nicks
The demise of Steve Smith has been talked about for the last three seasons. This year, it finally started to show with his numbers and injuries that started to pile up. He finished with only 64 catches for 745 yards and four TDs. Those are good numbers for a No. 2 receiver, but fall short of expectations for a No 1. If they signed Hakeem Nicks, he would be the possession receiver to go with the speed of Smith. Brandon Lafell would be one of the bette No. 3 receivers in the league and Cam Newton would finally have adequate weapons on the outside.